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Georgian Dublin – The Custom House


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Many of my memories of Dublin center around the architecture of Georgian Dublin. In particular the grand old neoclassical buildings like the Custom House stand out. In fact, in the dictionary of architecture, I could picture this building on the River Liffey next to the entry for grand!

It’s something of a wonder that any of Georgian Dublin survives. During the Irish war for independence, government buildings like this were prime targets. The Custom House was burned in May of 1921 but was rebuilt in the years following the conclusion of the war. Meanwhile, after the war, many of the Georgian townhouses and palaces were allowed to lapse into ruin or simply torn down. For years after Irish independence, people who suggested saving buildings in Georgian Dublin were labeled as unionist. Georgian Dublin was seen as synonymous with British rule.

It’s somewhat ironic that since then some of Dublin’s older buildings have in recent years been used for sets in period dramas. For instance various buildings in Georgian Dublin have been used in the Ripper TV series to represent London in the late Victorian era. It would have been both a cultural loss as well as a monetary one to let all traces of old Dublin fall away!

I stayed quite near The Custom House while I was visiting Dublin. So for me it’s not just the impressive architecture that speaks to me. It reminds me of mornings walking along the banks of the Liffey. And how clearly I remember the winter sun soaking up the facade of this little corner of Georgian Dublin. I can feel the nip in the air and the sun on my back again. The port has moved further out of the city now that ships are larger and the Custom House no longer serves that function. It now houses the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. But somehow when I look at this, I still get a feel of old Dublin when this was the heart of the old port city.

Have you also walked along the banks of the Liffey and admired this beautiful old building? Or does this print speak to you for other reasons? I hope you might take a moment to share your thoughts with me!


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